SM Krishna on four-day visit to Lanka

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna embarks on a four-day visit to Sri Lanka on Thursday to strengthen bilateral relations and to participate in the 7th Joint Commission meeting to review the progress of bilateral commitments.

Last Updated: Nov 23, 2010, 19:26 PM IST

New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S M
Krishna embarks on a four-day visit to Sri Lanka on Thursday
to strengthen bilateral relations and to participate in the
7th Joint Commission meeting to review the progress of
bilateral commitments.

The Joint Commission meeting is being revived after five
years with the sixth meeting being held in Colombo in 2005.
Chaired by Foreign Ministers of the two countries, the
Commission will review the progress of the joint commitments
and the implementation of the agenda set during President
Rajapaksa`s state visit to India in June.

During the visit, Krishna will inaugurate the Indian
consulates in the southern coastal city of Hambantota, a
stronghold of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and in
Northern Jaffna.

They are in addition to the existing consulate at Kandy
to cater to the Indian-origin Tamils in the tea estates.

According to an official of the Ministry of External
Affairs, Krishna will participate in a ceremony to begin the
pilot project for construction of 1000 houses for internally
displaced persons (IDPs) in Northern Lanka. A memorandum of
understanding has already been signed for the pilot project.

India has committed to constructing and rebuilding 50,000
houses for IDP rehabilitation in North and Eastern Sri Lanka
during the June visit of Rajapaksa.
New Delhi has announced a Rs 500 crore package for
rehabilitating an estimated three lakh Tamil IDPS in the North
who crossed over to the Sri Lankan government-controlled areas
during the war with the LTTE that ended last May.

Besides revival of the destroyed railway lines and roads,
India is helping Colombo upgrade the KKS port and Palali
airport in the Tamil-dominated Jaffna Peninsula.

In reply to a question on the political solution to the
vexed Tamil issue, government sources said Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh has emphasised on a meaningful devolution
package, building upon the 13th Amendment of the Sri Lankan
Constitution.

In the joint declaration issued at the end of Rajapaksa`s
visit to India in June, Singh had said this would create the
necessary conditions for a lasting political settlement.

The President of Sri Lanka on his part had reiterated his
determination to evolve a political settlement acceptable to
all communities.

This, he had said, would help create the necessary
conditions in which all the people of Sri Lanka could lead
their lives in an atmosphere of peace, justice and dignity.

In reply to a question on whether allegations of Sri
Lankan Navy firing on Indian fishermen straying into their
territory will be discussed, the government sources merely
said the issue of fishermen will be on the agenda during
Krishna`s visit to the island nation.

The sources said the two sides had put in place an
arrangement to tackle the problem in October 2008.

As against over 1000 Tamil fishermen who were arrested by
Sri Lankan authorities in 2008 for straying into their waters,
the number came down to 127 in 2009 and to 30 so far this
year, the sources said.

The sources said there was no killing of Indian fishermen
in 2009.

On defence cooperation, the government sources recalled
Indian Navy Chief`s visit to Sri Lanka recently to strengthen
defence ties.

PTI